Rats eating candy asses and the lives of Western ranchers: this week's two recommended art openings both feature video installations, but otherwise couldn't be more different. See what all the fuss is about by attending one of these art show openings in person — or maybe even both.
Great Rivers Biennial 2016
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Blvd. |www.camstl.org
Opens 7-9 p.m. Fri., May 6. Continues through Aug. 14.
Lyndon Barrois Jr., Nanette Boileau and Tate Foley are the winners of the 2016 Great Rivers Biennial, CAM’s ongoing program that recognizes local artists with a cash prize and a solo show in the museum. Barrois incorporates sculpture, installation and painting in Of Color, which comprises eight life-size assemblages and an asphalt basketball court. The pieces are all abstractions of human identities represented by shoes and clothing, challenging the viewer’s perceptions of race and socio-economic background. Boileau exhibits the three-channel video installation Dakota Territory, which documents the lives of Wyoming and South Dakota ranchers in the style of a biologist’s field notes. Her work strips away the mythology of the frontier from the reality of the contemporary American West. Printer and bookmaker Foley attacks the weighted value of language in his large-scale sculptures and videos. He uses printing technology from the 1980s to create phonetically spelled words out of wheat paste, which are then attached to his free-standing sculptures. The accompanying videos use hand-painted words, also spelled phonetically, to further separate words from their accepted meanings.
Brandon Engstrom and Kevin
3526 Washington Ave. | www.duetstl.com
Opens 6-8 p.m. Fri., May 6. Continues through July 9.
Kevin is not one, but many. He exists in the gallery's crawlspace, an assemblage of objects and artifacts that prove someone was there. Kevin is as real as all the Twitter bots and online lurkers, a shadowy presence you can see proof of but never meet face-to-face. Brandon Engstrom, however, is real, a Los Angeles-based artist who discovered he had unwanted collaborators. Engstrom had a series of female buttocks made from candy that he was storing in an apartment. At night the rats consumed them, which he only discovered when he set up cameras in an effort to find out what was destroying his work. The resulting documentary shows the rats gobbling up the butts; it’s part Tina Belcher fantasy piece made real and part commentary on consumerism at its most ravenous.